Like the similar question re Douglas Pearce, this one never goes away.
My theory is – no, based on the real, definite evidence, and the balance of probabilities.
But even if he is – guess what – it doesn’t make any difference to you and I! If you can’t aceept that the art and the artist are separate, you are dangerously deluded blab blah blah blah I’ve said it all before…
Let’s take another look at the “Vander is a Nazi” hype as it was infamously presented, years ago, first on Facebook, then on the kohntarosz blog. The “evidence”:
(a) some rather harsh remarks made in 1970 about the then under-developed state of India and parts of the African subcontinent, and about international aid
(b) some rumours aired online (Facebook and the blog) by someone who claimed to be keyboard player Emmanuel Borghi
(c) some rumours aired in the past by Daevid Allen.
Whether the Borghi remarks were even written by Borghi cannot be proven – and, for the sake of everybody’s personal privacy, should not be proven! But as a consequence they cannot be taken as gospel.
Is Borghi trustworthy? NO. Is Vander trustworthy? NO. Am I trustworthy? NO. Because whoever you are, if you’re reading this, you don’t know me, or Mr B, Or Mr V. You don’t share a brain with any of the above. There’s no such thing as communication blah blah blah blah must I write that stuff all again?…
Let’s go through this “evidence for the prosecution”:
(a) A quotation from Goebbels in a sleevenote. It’s an apposite quote to accompany a piece of music supposedly depicting a war, and supposedly telling its story through the eyes of a pair of dictator/would-be-messiah types, one of whom effectively leads his followers to mass suicide (MDK). What are we supposed to do – pretend the Nazi regime didn’t coin any useful phrases?
(b) Claims made by Allen that Vander had or has a collection of Nazi memorabilia – claims that we can’t, and have no right to attempt to, prove or disprove.
(c) Claims that Vander was/is a holocaust denier or downplayer, given to Hitler-is-misunderstood conspiracy rhetoric. This was never meant to be a politics blog let alone a history blog. So rather than delve into the issues raised there…more claims that we can’t, and have no right to attempt to, prove or disprove.
(d) Claims that the Seventh record company uses Nazi iconography in its logos and its sleeve artwork. E.g the venue depicted on the Bobino concert album/video is allegedly based on an unbuilt design by Albert Speer. Even though it looks to the not-very-well-trained eye more like a typical Greco-Roman relic than anything “alpine”.
To which the reply is – if it’s based on Speer, guess what, it doesn’t make any difference to any of us! What idiots believe that bricks and mortar have some sort of magic powers? Oh yes, I know, religious people (which, despite their pretences to atheism, the Nazis were).
(d) Claims that the Kobaian language – which sounds vaguely German but, on paper, looks more Slavic – has always been used as a vehicle for encoded Nazi rhetoric. For instance – here’s a strange one! – claims that those screamed “lectures” on the debut album are Hitler impersonations, which consist of garbled phonetic-approximations of “the little bastard’s” speeches!
To refresh our memories, Kobaian is a “language” which, as everyone involved in its creation have told us for the past fifty years, doesn’t really exist, except as a musically useful set of sounds. When fans with specialist linguistic knowledge have tried to construct Kobaian grammars and dictionaries, they have been neither supported nor condemned by Vander, Blasquiz and co.
This theory makes about as much sense as Chris Knowles’s theories about Elizabeth Fraser (he doesn’t know what she’s saying any better than I do – in fact he knows less than I do: how can you trust a man whose hearing is so far gone he can’t tell “k”s from “t”s and “n”s from “l”s?)
So anyway… here we have Christian Vander depicted as a guy not only using his band and record company as a Trojan horse for Nazi propaganda but propaganda so obscure only he could have noticed it. Now, ask yourself, who has Vander always publically named as his main source of inspiration, his role model, his spirit guide? Who?
Oh man, this is a killer! – we have here a theory which involves the use of John Coltrane – John fucking Coltrane!! – a symbol/mask for Adolf Hitler.
When I look at the supposed “Nazi iconography” of the Seventh Records logos and sleeve designs (even before they adopted CD digipacks in the Studio Zund era), I’ll tell you what I see! An amalgam of references to two legacy record companies, namely Impulse and OJC. What, or who, connects those labels?
When I hear Vander (yes, it is him, not Blasquiz) yelling his incomprehensible rhetoric on the debut and elsewhere, I’ll tell you what I hear! A guy trying to use his voice the way Pharoah Sanders used his tenor saxophone (or, if you want to play devil’s advocate, Peter Brotzmann or Willem Breuker). But…Pharoah Sanders, that ties in with the Egypt element in the Magma myths and legends.
By the way, is that controversial 1970 Rock & Folk Magazine quotation even real? Nothing you read online can be taken as gospel – as proof, first we would need an ink-and-paper document, then we would need the 1970 “publisher” to verify the authenticity of said document.
Finally – a few things the people on that blog never tired of pointing out, Christian was part-Romany. And was married for years to Stella (who is Jewish) and has had more than a few Jewish people in the band. And none of the supposed hidden messages in the above are actually saying anything anti-semitic or against judaism.
A guy with “gypsy roots” who presents as the world’s biggest John Coltrane fan. Who has periodically indulged in “culturally I’m a black guy trapped in a white guy’s body” type talk. Whose other influences, referenced in his own music, are most notably Pharoah Sanders, Sun Ra, gospel music in general, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, and WIlson Pickett (MG and WP are referenced in two of the least-loved tracks on the Bobino album).
Like I said, balance of probabilities…
But because we live in a world where it’s being made more apparent than ever that “liberte? c’est un reve!” (ha ha, see what i did there) – since 2006 Magma “product” has being withdrawn from sale in some areas, and Magma discussions have been censored out of existence by a few self-appointed censors of so-called “online publishing”. So this is an Issue in need of Action.